Breathing Room

Knowing about air quality is an important part of green building.

by Terry Beaubois

As health issues become more prominent, researchers are considering approaches to improving air quality for India’s 1.3 billion residents.

As health issues become more prominent, researchers are considering approaches to improving air quality for India’s 1.3 billion residents.

As an architect, I’ve always been aware of air management in buildings. This includes heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC). It also includes humidity, fresh air ventilation and air quality. Some of my recent experiences have significantly increased my awareness of how critical this issue is becoming for every building.

In many ways, air handling seemed to be a more-technical aspect of architecture, as opposed to other more visible and aesthetic aspects of design. Because many of the leading indicators of problems in air quality are not visible and have no odor, measurements and testing will become an increasingly significant factor in addressing these issues completely and effectively during design, construction and post-construction. This is definitely a case of “what we don’t know and can’t see, CAN hurt us.”

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Healthy Homes, Healthy Buildings

WHAT WE CAN’T SEE AND DON’T KNOW CAN HURT US—AND OUR CLIENTS.

by Terry Beaubois

THE TOPIC OF HEALTHY HOMES AND BUILDINGS has been around for a while, but the awareness of the problem and what to do about it is being raised to a higher level with recent findings.

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Home sick home. Indoor air quality may not seem to be a key point to consider when designing a house, but it can be a crucial aspect for builders and home occupants—especially if they consider working with you again years later.

Having a healthy home environment is a core element for every member of the building industry—architects designing homes for people; builders building homes; and family members concerned about their family’s health. This is an area that has been a career-long interest of mine. In the past, it was more of a background issue, but over time, research shows this to be increasingly important as we gain a better understanding and additional knowledge of the issues related to air quality. 

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In With the New

It's not easy to introduce updated concepts to the building industry, but some are making it happen.

by Terry Beaubois

In January, I spoke at the Green Builder symposium and then attended the International IBS/NAHB/NKB show. What struck me is how wonderful and diverse the building industry is—and yet how separated into silos we still are. With a few exceptions, such as the larger product manufacturers exhibiting at IBS, we do not share information among architects, designers, engineers and general contractors, let alone home and building owners. A home show I attended in San Jose in February confirmed that thought: Few manufacturers, builders and remodeling companies were there to share information with homeowners.

Tech construction firm Katerra specializes in factory-style construction of individual walls, floors and roofs for new homes. These can be assembled after arrival at a worksite, allowing for better quality control.

Tech construction firm Katerra specializes in factory-style construction of individual walls, floors and roofs for new homes. These can be assembled after arrival at a worksite, allowing for better quality control.

The reason for mentioning this siloing is because it is key in addressing how to create increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the building industry. In studies of all the major industries covering the past 50 years, the building industry has experienced the least increase in efficiency and effectiveness in the past 20 to 50 years compared to most other industries.

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Sharing Smart Knowledge

There's a lot the U.S. and India can learn from each other - if we take the time to teach it.

by Terry Beaubois

Since my last article, I traveled to India for another Smart Villages Conference reflecting the progress made to date in state of Andhra Pradesh, and then I traveled to Texas to visit an EcoSmart Community that has started construction, just east of Austin, Texas.

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Often I find people in the U.S. thinking “oh, poor India” because much of the news in the U.S. from there are focused on disasters, floods, train accidents — it’s understandable that we get that impression. My last trip in India was full of reports of hurricanes in Houston, then Florida, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin island and the earthquake in Mexico, so some in India might have been thinking “poor U.S. and Mexico” It is my hope that through common interests in the building smart communities, we can build improved international relations and learn about and teach each other more about our successes in dealing with needed community improvements globally...

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Only By Design

 'Smart Communities Thinking' helps you on multiple levels

by Terry Beaubois

With my background in architecture, NASA, a smart house project, researching small towns in Montana, and now teaching the Smart Villages module in a Smart Communities class at Stanford, I have become fully aware that multidisciplinary knowledge and collaboration are the best way forward in building smart, sustainable communities. I’ve also discovered that green builders can take a leading role.

Looking at communities through a “smart” lens helps us understand the reality of the world around us. In my experience, most people do not want to be in an isolated house, isolated town, or an isolated city. Smart communities need to be connected regionally and globally. It’s what makes them connected and smart. The Internet allows us to do this, but we should have the ability to “opt in” to the aspects of the Internet we want and stay safe and secure from what we do not want...

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An introduction to development of smart communities: homes, towns and villages, and cities.

by Terry Beaubois

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“What do you mean by ‘smart’?”

Identifying and describing what “smart” is—when it applies to a home, village or a city—is important, because the term is thrown around a lot lately.

The way I use “smart” may be more inclusive than how others do. Some people limit “smart” to technology or Internet of Things (IoT) items and issues. For them, that may be appropriate. My definition of “smart” includes IoT, but is not limited to it. As an architect who approaches things using Architectural Design Thinking, I look at the entire ecosystem of the building or project to consider how we can make the built environment “smart.” This includes green, sustainable, resilient, appropriate and other categories that benefit projects seeking to maintain or improve quality for people, all while incorporating advances in technology that contribute to the human health, safety and security in smart communities...

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Cognitive Computing and the Global Building Industry

How AI and IoT are transforming where we live

by Terry Beaubois

Terry with the Architecture School at Andhra University, India

Terry with the Architecture School at Andhra University, India

The building industry is one of the oldest: dating back at least 6,000 years as soon as we started creating settlements and communities. It is also one of the most pervasive with the global construction industry expected to be worth $10.3 trillion by 2020.

My interest in applying cognitive computing to the global building industry began with my consulting work with NASA in the late 1970’s — early 1980’s. The topics at that time included Space Station Design; Artificial Intelligence; Virtual Reality (called Telepresence at the time) and telerobotics; early Mars Rover technology (connecting video camera imagery with computer analyses) and design of a Research Lab module for the U.S. Space Shuttle...

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